The National Assembly’s Third Session of the 12th Parliament kicks off today with members facing a weighty legislative agenda.
House Majority Leader Aden Duale provided a glimpse into what promises to be engaging discourse with MPs expected to feel less restricted to follow partisan courses defined by party leadership. Their oversight role has in the past been diluted by Executive interests, including in vetting appointees as recently revealed over a number of envoys-designate.
At the top will be the Budget Policy Statement which comes against overall tougher economic environment, a credit squeeze and burgeoning debt. And all this against ambitious goals summed up in the President’s legacy-defining Big Four agenda.
Kenyans will thus await Treasury’s presentation of the supplementary budget, and the plans for the Financial Year 2019/20 for MPs to not only scrutinise the spending plan, but also make suggestions.
The House is expected to be facilitative on how decent housing plan, affordable healthcare, food security and manufacturing can be fast-tracked while massive unemployment is minimised.
Against the backdrop of intensified war on corruption and the need for ethical conduct in service delivery by public servants, MPs will debate a Bill on conflict of interest. Kenyans expect them to be on the right side of history in the war on graft. Part of this must be to restrain their predisposition to self-gain.
The House is also expected to debate the report presented by House Legal Affairs Committee chairman William Cheptumo which, among others, is expected to look into reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission which is currently barely functional following the exit of several members and CEO. A related issue for members is to provide clear direction to how the realities of post-Handshake dispensation amid calls for inclusivity and a possible referendum should be handled.
MPs are also expected to debate, and if necessary, amend laws governing the education sector in the face of the 100 per cent transition to secondary education.
MPs must ensure the issue of access to financing for SMEs and the high cost of credit which could imperil manufacturing sector is addressed.
Analysts have warned that the debt situation could soon run out of control and it behoves them to take the right steps to close the gap.